Monday, December 4, 2017

Hunger Pains

            I’m craving competition.  I’m feeling strong again and I’m getting restless with just working out.  I’m tempted to do a ski race (for fun and for the challenge of it).  Logistically, 3 kids will be a lot tougher to train with for skiing than 2 were.  There is also a USATF indoor track meet that I am eyeing.  Even without any jumps practice, I’m tempted to do it anyway.  The drive to the Twin Cities for it, and juggling things with 3 littles is a turn-off though.
Skiing Nov 11th this year! (The only day we could so far)
            I’ve been swimming REALLY well and working on building up some run mileage again (shooting for over 20 miles/week right now).  I feel so good in the pool, strong and FAST, that it makes me want to do triathlons again.  Feeling strong makes a big difference.  It’s not just the weight lifting, it’s also having my iron levels up.  My body doesn’t feel as fatigued.  My engine is firing on all cylinders.  My last year (or 2) of racing, I didn’t feel strong.  I felt like I was just trying to push through it.  My best races were when I would get off the bike and felt strong, even if I just biked 56 miles.  After having Myles, I never really felt that way again.  Even workouts were a challenge.  I just didn’t feel good.  After World’s in Cozumel, I thought I was really just retiring from the sport altogether.  This past year off was necessary, but now that I’m feeling good, it has me thinking about it again.
            I ran a super low-key Turkey Trot at Thanksgiving with my husband. We started conservatively (granted it was also 20 degrees out and slick with a dusting of snow).  A Cross Country girl took it out fast and held the lead for over a mile before we started closing the gap.  With over a mile to go, we left her behind.  But it’s not the win that gets me. After all, you can’t determine who is going to show up on race day.  But it’s how I felt overtaking her.  I comfortably pushed.  I felt good.  I felt strong (23:53 helps that feeling – heck, I once ran a whole marathon at that pace in my prime!). It’s not the pace; it’s the feeling.  It’s being able to make the last mile, the fastest mile.  It’s about being able to be aggressive at the end, to be able to push when it’s time to push.  It’s all about feeling strong. Now I just need something to work towards.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Brit's Pub Vault '17

I ended the track and competition season with Brit’s Pub Vault – one of the sweetest venues I’ve seen.  Arriving there, I knew that even if the day didn’t go well, it’d still be a cool experience.  I was right.  Brit’s Pub is located in downtown Minneapolis.  It’s a couple stories tall.  They have a rooftop patio and lawn, upon which was a raised runway and pit.  It was beautiful!  It was their fourth year, my first. 
            The weather was perfect.  All of the Master’s (meaning those over 30) vaulted together at 9:30am – 12 men and 2 women.  I haven’t vaulted much in August, after all, track has been done and we are three weeks into the volleyball season already!  I made 10-6 for the day, and while I hoped for 11 feet, I don’t have any real complaints.  I felt great in warm-ups and over 10-6, and it was just nice to be jumping again.  It was also sad to officially close out the season.
            Thanks to those that came out for the event to cheer me on: Andy, my mom, a cousin and her fiancĂ©, and Katie (who just finished her triathlon season at Nationals where she qualified for World’s!).  While I didn’t make big heights, at least I ended the season as the Women’s Master’s Champion at Brit’s Pub Vault!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Effects of "Juicing"

            I haven’t been doing much in the way of triathlon since the World Championships last September.  I’ve ridden my cruiser bike, usually pulling kids, occasionally.  Running has mainly just been sprinting with track.  Although I did a couple distance workouts in July and loved how it made me feel.  I miss that part about tri training – feeling so exhausted.  It’s motivating.  I’ve also done a few distance runs up to 3 miles that were fairly slow. 
            I try to swim twice a week, but have gone weeks without, but that’s where I started to notice a change first.  That, and being able to complete Crossfit workouts without feeling like I was lightheaded and quickly short of breath.  In my final seasons of triathlon, I had been getting frustrated with swimming (and all training really) because I could not hit the times/paces that I used to.  Sometimes not even close.  But my swim times started dropping recently – with a mix of old and new workouts.  I was feeling powerful in the water like I used to.  I was getting faster.  In one of my new workouts, I was hitting times faster than I ever have in a workout – and within 1 second of my 100 time in my swim meet, during my fastest swimming time in my life.  Was this the iron treatments kicking in?  I didn’t feel lightheaded, and I felt strong in both lungs and muscles.
            So I recently did a couple progression runs (this spring, getting under 10 minute pace was a big deal), and my final mile times dropped to 8:12, 7:55, and then 7:32.  I ran a timed mile and ran 6:33, and while that’s not my old 6 minute mile time, I’ve also hardly been running.  I still want to keep things low key with only 2 swims per week and now upping to 3 runs/week.  I don’t want to go crazy and push too hard, too fast, or feel like I need to return to a heavy load of training, but I start to wonder… “What’s possible?”  I haven’t asked that of myself in a long time.  I thought triathlons weren't even going to enter my mind again.
            I could not have done triathlons this summer.  My body was not ready.  The iron treatments I believe have changed everything though.  It took nearly 5 months after having Rowyn, but I finally feel GOOD, like I should. I’m on daily iron pills and will need to be retested in follow-up appointments but I'm on the right track.  Speaking of which, taking this past summer to focus solely on track has also been refreshing, and a much-needed mental break.  I’m hoping good things lie ahead – whatever they may be. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Three Eagle Track Club

            Without triathlons, of course I had to have a new summer project, which resulted in the formation of the Three Eagle Track Club.  I got it USATF certified, and we had two practices a week in the evenings.  It was open to all ages.  Typical turnouts for practices were 8-12 people.  Initially, I thought we would just travel to meets that already existed, like Badger State Games.  We did have a group that went and represented at that meet, but I decided a smarter move would be to really try to grow it locally.  I knew this was also a gamble.  It could potentially be a success, but it could also very much end up being a flop.
            We hosted two summer meets, on Monday nights at the end of June and July, at the Three Lakes track.  For the first one, we did everything by hand.  I wrote out the heat sheets by hand, and everything was hand-timed.  Afterwards, I had to input all of the results to submit it to athletic.net, but it was very simple on meet day to take late registrations, and add people in, combine, etc.  We had around 46 competitors, and it was a blast! 
            I had a sense that the second meet would be a lot bigger though, so I inquired with a local timing company about coming down and helping us out.  So on July 31, we hosted our second summer meet, and the response was almost overwhelming!  We had a ton of late registrations which made it difficult to get everyone typed into the system, and then combine age groups for seeding heats, etc.  We definitely learned a lot from the experience and how to improve upon it for next summer.  At our second meet, we had 74 total competitors!  We had people traveling from Owen-Withee, Waunakee, Waupun, Wausau, Spencer, Merrill, Minocqua, and Mercer to partake in the meets.  We also had a large group of local youth that got involved too! 
It was so exciting to be able to offer this opportunity in the Northwoods.  All other summer track opportunities are in southern Wisconsin.  The ages ranged from 1 to 57 years old.  We had families battling it out against each other.  Registration was only $5 per person, and we offered all high school track and field events.  Channel 12 came out and did a story on us (check it out here).  Andy made a highlight video form the first meet, and we will hopefully see more pictures yet from our second meet.
I had ordered 30 jerseys for our Club, and over the course of the season, I had 27 checked out to tracksters.  Our Club consisted of local Three Lakes people, as well as from Crandon (who has a track team, but no track).  I competed in both meets, and cleared 11 feet at both of them (I’m happy with that!), and I also ran the 200m in the second meet.  I went neck and neck with a student-athlete of ours, who ended up beating me by .03 seconds.  It was a blast!  And a PR time for me compared to what I ran at Badger State.  It was super fun, and mind-blowing at how successful it was!  One man who came and spectated said, “I smiled. I laughed. And when I walked away, I had a tear in my eye.”  Another lady who saw the story on Channel 12 said, “That was just the neatest! I got goosebumps just watching it.”
It was immensely rewarding to be a part of it from the ground up.  Baya and Myles also competed in both meets, running the 50m dash, long jumping, and throwing the softball.  On the way home from the second meet, Baya said, “Mommy, I want to do another track meet.  My favorite part was running. (pause). The best was throwing. (pause). What was your favorite part?”  It’s conversations like these that I hope I’ll be having with my kids for many, many years to come.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

River Vault 2017

            On June 26th, the Three Eagle Track Club hosted its first summer meet.  While I knew I HAD to vault at it, I didn’t think I could also run the event and do other events too, so I just stuck with vaulting at it.  The meet was a huge success and a lot of fun!  I also FINALLY made 11 feet!  I knew I had it in me, so I was stoked to pull that off.  Then at the end of the week on July 1st, I went down to La Crosse and competed in the River Vault for the second year in a row.  Last year I pulled off an 11’6” vault, but my goal going into it this year was to just make 11’ at least.  I didn’t think I had 11’6” in me at this point.  Between kids, rain, and wind, it’s been hard to get in much for longer approach work during practice, so while I feel like I’ve been progressing well in some areas, I wanted to keep a realistic goal for myself so that the event would still be fun (because it is a REALLY fun competition to be a part of!).
            I was part of the 2nd flight of females for the day.  I felt good during warm-ups, but also had a hard time getting something good out of the pole I knew I needed to be on.  I came in at 10 feet, and missed on my first attempt, but the feel of the pole from it made me confident instead of nervous.  My second attempt was not pretty, but good enough to clear the bar.  I saw my pole coming back to hit the crossbar, so I popped up and grabbed it before it could hit it.  Not a legal move in most competitions, but they let it slide and I got applause for that move!


            I made 10’6” on my first attempt, but still didn’t feel like I was vaulting well yet.  I then made 11’ on my first attempt as well!  There were still about 6 or 7 of us going into the next height, and we all missed our first attempts at 11’6’.  I focused on trying to keep my speed at the end of my approach instead of slowing down, and then I cleared it on my second attempt!  By the end of that height, I was the only one who had made 11’6”!  My attempts at 12’ were nothing special, but to have, once again, been attempting a lifetime PR height was unbelievable!  As much as I wanted to be back at this point by now, I definitely did not see it happening.  Dissecting the videos, I can see the areas that I need to focus on, but I also feel like those are areas where I can break my bad habits (as I’m starting to with short approaches), and to make positive changes after all these years.  I’m unimaginably ecstatic to be at this point.  I’m in a bit of disbelief still actually.  A total of 38 girls competed at the River Vault, and while I was the top (and only) Sub Master, I also tied for 3rd overall.  Pinch me.